1850 or earlier, Zelkova with dragon pattern grains (Dragon-wood), primitive-style iron fittings; found on Kangwha Island, prison colony for the Kingdom of Korea for two thousand years.
Dragon-wood is the highest prized wood by both Korean and Japanese literati and craftsmen because of its strength and swirling grain patterns that resemble dragons. This chest, with no decorations other than the fantastic grain patterns and primitive-looking iron-fittings, has the look of a piece of furniture older than the 19th century ones usually found in Korea. Its austere simplicity is the type Confucius era scholars favored. This chest was certified as rare by a Professor of Korean History and Antiquity in the 1900s. He was one of only thirteen certifiers approved by the Korean government. Many pieces he approved are now in museums all over the world. This magnificent book chest would have gone to one had we not already just bought it.